‘Sicario’ Offers Uneasy, Intense Thrills

Sicario_posterIf this film is good for anything, it’s reaffirming my desire to not visit Mexico anytime soon.

“Sicario” stars Emily Blunt as an ambitious FBI agent who gets involved with a government task force (led by Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro) in an effort to bring down a Mexican drug lord. “Prisoners” director Denis Villeneuve helms here.

This was one of my most anticipated films of the fall ever since the first trailer dropped. I adored “Prisoners,” the cast looked great, and cinematographer Roger Deakins is one of the best we’ve ever had. So even though “Sicario” isn’t the masterpiece I hoped it would be it is still an intense, wonderfully-wound thriller about the war on drugs.

The best things about “Sicario” are from the people who stand behind the camera. The film is shot beautifully, which like I said shouldn’t be a surprise since Deakins was the Director of Photography. He and Villeneuve implement aerial shots throughout the film, which shows us the vast scope of how much of a No Man’s Land the southern U.S. border and Mexico really are.

While marketed as an action film, you should know there isn’t much gunplay in here. Instead, Villeneuve makes the entire film have an uneasy, dangerous sense about it; you feel as if any character could pull put a weapon at any moment. The best sequence in the film takes place on the U.S.-Mexico border bridge, and it is as intense as any scene I’ve seen in a while, very possibly since the climax of “Prisoners” (which I’m still shaking from).

The acting in the film is solid across the board, but Del Toro stands out. Throughout most of the film he is a silent observer, you don’t know much about him or his motivations except “he goes where he’s sent”. But in the film’s final act, Del Toro flips a switch and becomes an incredibly different person, and this simple man suddenly becomes a multi-layered character study.

I wasn’t annoyed or off-put by “Sicario’s” slow pace, it adds that uneasy tension to the film, however outside of Del Toro’s character the film never truly builds to anything great. Blunt’s FBI agent is more of a pawn than an actual player in the film, and the plot itself plays out like a more sadistic version of “Breaking Bad” (to say, there aren’t any huge twists; the “twist” is pretty much given away in the trailer).

“Sicario” is one of the movies that you appreciate the more you let it soak in. It is certainly an adult film if there ever was one, and an uncomfortable one at that. There are mutilated bodies galore and the entire experience itself may make you want to take a shower, but I am glad I went on the ride. It is a good, not great film, which is a bit disappointing considering all the talent involved, but I still think “Sicario” is one of the better films of 2015.

Critics Rating: 7/10



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